Filling the Gaps
The Baptist Children and Youth Ministry (BCYM) adventure started in 2006 when Pastor Joseph Kazzi first observed a gaping void of youth ministry programs in the Baptist churches across Lebanon. Noticing that many youth were leaving the church due to the fact that there was no one to pastor them spiritually, he wondered what could be done to keep the younger generation engaged in church. As a solution, Joseph partnered with Gladys Haddad-Sebali and LSESD and together they established BCYM as a way to fill the gap and promote youth ministry in Baptist churches throughout Lebanon.
Ministering to Children Affected by Crisis
Six months later, a conflict with Lebanon’s southern neighbor broke out causing a number of people to be internally displaced. BCYM responded to the crisis by mobilizing youth and young adults in Lebanese churches to minister to children affected by the crisis. As a result, churches across the country started to build their youth ministry programs. Additionally, BCYM began to hold three-day overnight camps for the Lebanese youth in order to teach them Biblical principles and show them how to build positive community.
In 2011, BCYM’s focus again shifted significantly when the Syrian war broke out and refugees began to flood across the border. Local churches began to reach out and help the refugees who were suddenly to be found all across the country. BCYM partnered with volunteers from local churches and started organizing three-day camps for the Syrian refugee children. What started as only a few camps per summer quickly grew to be over 20 camps per year with weekly follow-up events and home visits.
Providing Spiritual Sustenance
BCYM provides the spiritual and emotional sustenance needed by these displaced children. Its goal is to demonstrate the love of God to children and their families and establish long-lasting and fruitful relationships with them. Today, in response to the grave needs of the displaced communities living on Lebanese territory, BCYM mainly organizes camps and follow-up events for children of refugee families who have been forced to flee the violence in the neighboring country.
Raising Up Community Leaders
Finally, BCYM’s work doesn’t stop there, but it also seeks to raise up the youth to become leaders within their own communities and, in turn, help others who are in need. By holding youth conferences, leadership retreats, and training sessions, BCYM hopes to equip a generation of young adults to be able to serve and empower youth and children across Lebanon.